Search Box

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Consistency, a stock reporting service, quoted Oscar Wilde this morning: "Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative."

It's similar to another oft-quoted line, "Consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds." (This is actually a misquotation of a Ralph Waldo Emerson's "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.") 

Emerson lived from 1803 to 1882, whereas Wilde lived from 1854 to 1900, so Wilde may have been cribbing. 

In any case, you may find it as annoying as I do to hear someone hide behind that quote. 

If so, the next time just reply, "And reciting a cliche like that is the hobgoblin of people who can't think for themselves."


Pavonine99 said...

The Wilde quote is actually an allusion to a quote by Samuel Johnson: "Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel." The essay the Wilde quote is from a review of Wilde's, and Johnson is (or was, in a more literate age) a renowned critic. So, in context, the quote is riffing on another quote that was overused back in the day.
And they said an English major wasn't useful.

John Craig said...

Pavonine99 --
Ha, well that clarification just justified your education! Thank you.

I took a Samuel Johnson course back in college too, though I don't remember that quote (or, for that matter, anything) from the course. I do remember that he was awfully clever though.